2 Aug 2011

MPs express sympathies to people of Norway

6:43 pm on 2 August 2011

Parliament halted on Tuesday as MPs expressed their deep sympathies and condolences to the people of Norway following the bomb attack and mass shooting in the country.

Seventy-seven people died in the 22 July attack on government buildings in the capital Oslo followed by a mass shooting on Utoeya island where a summer camp for the Labour Party's youth wing was being held.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, has admitted responsibility for the deaths, including that of New Zealand-born girl Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn, who was 14 and attending the camp.

Tuesday was the first time MPs were in the House since the killings.

Prime Minister John Key told Parliament the bombing and the massacre were an appalling attack against Norway's democratic open and trusting society.

"Tragically, a New Zealand-born teenager was amongst those killed. The New Zealand Government extends its heartfelt condolences and thoughts to the people of Norway as they grieve.

"We are thinking of the families and friends who lost loved-ones in this tragedy and hope those that were injured in the attacks recover quickly.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says Norway is committed to a peaceful and more just world. He told the House that makes it even more of a tragedy that something so appalling could happen.

"We share with the Norwegians their abhorrence that someone could be so motivated by hatred of others on the basis of their ethnicity or their religion that they could have committed an atrocity of this nature."

Green Party MP Kennedy Graham says the current term of Parliament has had more than the usual share of grief and the House has stood many times in silence to unite and pay tribute.

"Yet we have not encountered these past two years the depth of evil that characterised the massacre in Norway. Mr Breivik's deed is in the category of major terrorism - a crime against humanity."

NZ-born victim remembered

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples told Parliament the attacks came exactly five months to the day after New Zealand was robbed of so many lives in the devastating Christchurch earthquake in which 181 people died.

Dr Sharples said Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn is mourned not only by her grandfather Rex Matthews who lives in Porirua, near Wellington, but by those from the Maori tribe Ngai Tuhoe.

Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton told the House that among the many tragedies and outrages of the killings towers a brutal truth.

"That they died because of politics; they died because of hatred. They were at a summer camp conceived to nurture a new generation of young people and they were targeted because they symbolised the future."

ACT Party parliamentary leader John Boscawen told the House it was with disbelief and horror that New Zealand heard of the Oslo blast and island shootings.

Both United Future leader Peter Dunne and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira also expressed their sympathies for the people of Norway.